Fashion retailer overhauls legacy till estate to tight timescales in order to support sales growth and improved customer service
A sense of adventure runs through the whole of fashion retailer Fat Face
, which was set up in 1998 to support two friends skiing in the Alps.
Today, Fat Face continues to “design kit for those who love to get out there”. Yet, with over 200 stores, the High Street fashion brand knew the risks involved in overhauling its legacy electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) systems.
“It’s a fine line between the thrill of beating a black run – and the embarrassment of being air-ambulanced off the slopes,” said Leon Shepherd, Fat Face business change and IT director.
“When it came to our recent PoS replacement project, we knew any mistakes could bring the whole mountain crashing down on us. And no one jumps in to rescue off-piste retailers,” he explained.
Make or break deployment
“It was a brave decision to replace the old system, no doubt: it was dead on its feet and in danger of toppling over at any point, but the project wasn’t without risks. Massive benefits if successful: the very survival of the business at risk if we failed. And we had a timescale that looked impossible on paper and landed right at the start of peak trading.”
Mindful of the importance of the project for Fat Face, IT specialist Vista Retail Support
managed the new PoS system deployment extremely carefully. In total, the project involved work at 206 stores mainland UK, Ireland, EIRE and the Channel Islands between August and November 2012, ahead of the busy Christmas period. The only piece of equipment that would remain part of the 408 existing tills was the cash drawer.
The new EPoS equipment was commissioned in Vista’s HDI facility in Cardiff between July and November 2012. In all, each solution comprised an HP RP5700 base unit, touchscreen, receipt printer, keyboard and scanner, along with a VeriFone VX810 PED counter top payment solution.
Minimising installation times
The equipment was fully tested prior to deployment and loaded with a data connection directly into the Fat Face IT network so the tills were as current as possible before they left the HDI facility. This was vital in minimising the onsite installation times for Vista’s onsite engineers and the Fat Face staff.
Each installation was carried out during the evening so as not to affect store trade. A Fat Face representative was present at every site so that the work could be signed-off on the night it was successfully completed.
With speed and efficiency of the essence, Vista’s forward planning was crucial in ensuring timely delivery and installation. “Part of the customer request was for the Vista engineers to take the equipment directly to site due to the size of some of the store stockrooms,” said James Pepper, Vista technical services director.
“This was a risk in our eyes as it did not give us the flexibility of engineering resource we normally have if an issue arises, for example engineer sickness. We overcame this by shipping to a local courier network depot the day before installation and arranged the engineer to collect the morning of installation. This worked perfectly and no sites were missed.”
Rapid roll out reaps rewards
For Fat Face, the primary reward for forging ahead with the business-wide PoS project was a fully operational modern system delivered within the tight timescale needed. Industry recognition also followed, with Fat Face project named ‘EPoS Initiative of the Year’ at the 2013 Retail Week technology awards.
“Despite a few late nights and scary moments, our PoS project went spectacularly well,” concluded Shepherd. “You can genuinely see the difference your work is making to the business, its people and its customers.”